New England Patriots will have arguably their toughest test of the season against conference-rival Houston Texans.Not only is it New England’s longest road trip of the year against a team with a dynamic offense, but New England has also been hit by injuries and the flu bug hard this week. Ten different players were out of practice or extremely limited as they attempted to recover from the flu.

Now, New England will look to keep pace ahead of Baltimore for the top spot in the AFC playoff race, but it won’t be easy given the Texans’ arsenal of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Not only is DeAndre Hopkins one of the best, if not the best receiver in the NFL, but quarterback Deshaun Watson will cause problems with his ability to extend plays as a runner.The Texans will also have their hands full against the league’s top defense and a pass-happy offense that has been an Achilles heel at times for Houston.

New England Patriots at Houston Texans .Sunday, December 1, 2019, at 8:20 p.m.NRG Stadium, Houston, TexasCoverage: NBC*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnlineSpread: New England (-3.5 at +105)
Over/Under: 46.5 (-110 either side)New England PatriotsThe biggest challenge for the Patriots on Sunday will be containing Deshaun Watson. The dual-threat quarterback has had success against the Patriots in the past and could look to exploit an undermanned New England defense.

With New England devoting much of its resources in the secondary to limiting DeAndre Hopkins and a lethal Texans passing game, Watson may look to play off the Patriots’ weaknesses. The Patriots have shown in the past that they struggle to contain mobile quarterbacks, most recently Lamar JacksonOffensively for New England, the airways could be clear with a Texans secondary struggling to put it together at times. If New England has Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu both back in the lineup, which is a major possibility, Houston may be a bit overwhelmed defending the pass.Houston TexansDefensively,

Houston will look to limit the pass against a New England offense that has thrived creating production through the air. With Vernon Hargreaves in the mix helping to anchor the Texans secondary, Houston has shown signs of improvement over the past two weeks.On offense, Watson and Hopkins will cause enough problems themselves, with Will Fuller and Kenny Stills providing other options for Watson as well. Besides, Watson could have one of the best running games in his young career if he’s able to get loose early,Prediction.

The Patriots may have had their issues with mobile quarterbacks, but they limited Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott just last week and figured things out late against Lamar Jackson.

New England’s defense only seems to get stronger and this weekend could be a proving point for them.Pick: Over the last two weeks, the Patriots offense has combined for 30 points while holding opponents to a total of 19 points. All season long, the Patriots have trended under, and there’s no sign of that changing on Sunday night. Although the matchup favors the Texans at home, look for the Patriots to claim a confidence-boosting win ahead of an all-important stretch run. New England wins a close one, but not by enough to cover the spread, in a 23-20 battle at Houston.